go That theorem gives a formula for the approximate number of primes smaller than some given large number. The Riemann Hypothesis gives a more specific result, providing a formula showing how accurate that estimate will be. Bernhard Riemann Wikimedia Commons The great nineteenth century mathematician Bernhard Riemann connected that accuracy bound to a special function on the complex number plane. The actual Riemann Hypothesis states that all of the points on the complex plane where that function equals zero fall along a particular line in the plane.
Should that be the case, the accuracy bound would also be true. As with the other problems on this list, there is a good amount of numerical evidence for the Riemann Hypothesis, and most mathematicians believe it to be true. Mathematicians have tested billions of the zero points of the function and found all of them to fall on that line. Also like the other problems we've looked at, there is not yet a full blown proof of the hypothesis. In each of these cases, while most mathematicians believe these conjectures to be true, and there is a good bit of empirical evidence for the conjectures, the search for a full blown proof continues.
This seemingly obsessive behavior on the part of mathematicians is partially because rigorous proof is one of the main goals of mathematics, but also because any proof of the twin primes conjecture, or of the Riemann Hypothesis, would likely involve radically new mathematical techniques and insights, potentially leading to entirely new avenues of research and ideas to explore.
In mathematics, it's often the case that the journey to finding a proof is at least as interesting as the result itself. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Andy Kiersz. Facebook Icon The letter F. Email icon An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email.
Over the past century, number theorists have developed a collection of methods that provide useful approximate answers to such questions. GPY developed a sieve that filters out lists of numbers that are plausible candidates for having prime pairs in them. To get from there to actual prime pairs, the researchers combined their sieving tool with a function whose effectiveness is based on a parameter called the level of distribution that measures how quickly the prime numbers start to display certain regularities. This is exactly the right value to prove the GPY result, but it falls just short of proving that there are always pairs of primes with a bounded gap.
Any amount more would be enough. But the more researchers tried to overcome this obstacle, the thicker the hair seemed to become.
Meanwhile, Zhang was working in solitude to try to bridge the gap between the GPY result and the bounded prime gaps conjecture. During the difficult years in which he was unable to get an academic job, he continued to follow developments in the field. After three years, however, he had made no progress. To take a break, Zhang visited a friend in Colorado last summer. While the new sieve allowed Zhang to prove that there are infinitely many prime pairs closer together than 70 million, it is unlikely that his methods can be pushed as far as the twin primes conjecture, Goldston said.
Even with the strongest possible assumptions about the value of the level of distribution, he said, the best result likely to emerge from the GPY method would be that there are infinitely many prime pairs that differ by 16 or less. It took Zhang several months to work through all the details, but the resulting paper is a model of clear exposition, Granville said. Once Zhang received the referee report, events unfolded with dizzying speed.
In number theory, the prime number theorem (PNT) describes the asymptotic distribution of the prime numbers among the positive integers. It formalizes the. THE DISTRIBUTION OF PRIME NUMBERS. 5 brilliance of this formula, Erd˝os quickly deduced the prime number theorem, followed by a proof of Selberg shortly.
Invitations to speak on his work poured in. For Zhang, who calls himself shy, the glare of the spotlight has been somewhat uncomfortable. Zhang was not shy, though, during his Harvard talk, which attendees praised for its clarity. Zhang said he feels no resentment about the relative obscurity of his career thus far.
Thankfully, Soundararajan and Lemke Oliver think they have an explanation. Much of the modern research into primes is underpinned G H Hardy and John Littlewood , two mathematicians who worked together at the University of Cambridge in the early 20 th century. They came up with a way to estimate how often pairs, triples and larger grouping of primes will appear, known as the k -tuple conjecture. The k -tuple conjecture is yet to be proven, but mathematicians strongly suspect it is correct because it is so useful in predicting the behaviour of the primes.
Journal reference: arxiv.
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